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IT'S FRESH, IT'S ORGANIC, IT'S BEL SOLEY

 

The business interests of Bel Soley depend on adequate supply of agricultural products. Consequently, it is a primary business of Bel Soley to promote and participate in programs that support the environmental health of Haiti – specifically reforestation programs. Bel Soley applies its resources as a for profit company to support reforestation and environmental programs through purchase of the crops produced through those programs.

The Bel Soley Resource Development and Reforestation Program
Question: To keep land forested, trees must be more valuable as growing living things than as wood for charcoal. How do you do that in Haiti?

The Problem
The primary cause of de-forestation in Haiti is economic necessity. In the absence of affordable alternatives, the people of Haiti have turned to trees as the primary source of wood to turn into charcoal for cooking. Trees are also the key resource for lumber used in construction. The result is massive deforestation. There have been a number of re-forestation projects – most funded by government and non-government organizations (rather than private or for-profit concerns) – but many of these programs have failed because the trees are cut down when they are large enough to be turned into charcoal. The result is continuing desolation.

The Proposed Solution
The de-forestation problem can be remedied through two parallel efforts:
• First, trees must be more valuable to Haitians as a source of steady income than as a source for charcoal or lumber;
• Second, the need to chop down trees for firewood or lumber must be reduced by providing alternative solutions that cost the same or less than the current solution.

In the first effort, different types of organizations must work together in a effort to start and maintain healthy trees. Re-forestation programs can help plant trees. Economic maintenance programs (e.g. micro-finance credit, etc.) can help maintain small farmers until trees are mature enough to produce cash crops. For-profit companies can buy the cash crops at good prices.

In the second effort, different types of organizations must work together in an effort to develop alternatives to cooking with charcoal and the underlying economics that will make those alternatives cheaper.

The Business Component
Bel Soley d’Ayaiti (BSA) is an agricultural products processing and development company based in Haiti. The company is or plans to be involved in processing agricultural products for both the export market and the domestic (Haitian) market. To operate its business, the company needs an adequate, steady and growing supply of raw materials, i.e. agricultural products. Many of these products must grow for a number of years (one to five) until the plants are mature enough to be productive. During the pre-maturity period, the cost of planting, tending and maintaining the crops can be a substantial cost. In almost all situations, small family farmers in Haiti do not have the resources to sustain themselves during the period necessary for the crops to reach maturity.  Consequently, it is difficult for BSA to obtain the necessary raw resources from small family farms (the most desirable source.)

Examples of crops that Bel Soley d’Ayaiti needs and may support in this Resource Development Program include:

Mango trees
Moringa trees
Jatropha trees
Bamboo
Macadamia nut trees
Avocado trees
Cashew trees
Also, for first stage growth on severely damaged land, prior to re-forestation:
Switch grass and other grasses
Castor beans
(both used for bio-fuels)

The Reforestation Program
This program is designed to create the necessary resources for Bel Soley product lines by providing the capability to plant trees and provide the financial stability for small farmers to survive until crops are productive. A collateral (secondary) objective is to focus the program on lands that are currently deforested and unusable for growth of annual food crops.

To cover the resources gap, BSA will work with government and non-government programs in a three-way co-operative effort: producer (the farmers), support organizations (the non-profits), and the buyer (BSA). The non-profit partner(s) will organize or work with individual farmers and groups of farmers in co-ops that agree to participate in the program. The non-profit(s) will provide good quality seed, organic fertilizers and insecticides, and training for the farmers. The non-profit (or a different, partner non-profit) will provide a quarterly financial subsidy for each of the farmers until the designated crop reaches maturity. For example, the non-profit could pay each farmer an agreed number of goude per healthy tree per quarter. As a variation, it is possible to work with micro-credit organizations to provide the farmers with regular (monthly?) loans at affordable rates until their crops are mature.

BSA in turn will pay for the cost of organic certification (where necessary) and set quality levels. Once the crop is mature BSA will agree to buy produce that meets quality levels at the higher of a price pre-set at the beginning of the program or market price. The farmers agree to comply with organic certification standards. When the crop is mature, farmers agree to a sales system with Bel Soley for the first several years where they will offer their crop for sale to BSA first and will sell to Bel Soley as long as BSA meets the market price.


Action Items for Re-Forestation Program

Bel Soley d’Ayiti (BSA) is willing to team with other organizations to solve the re-forestation problems. BSA will enter into agreements with those organizations (and/or the farmer co-ops formed as a part of the effort), to buy the cash crops produced by the forestry program. As a consequence,

a.) BSA seeks government and non-government re-forestation partners to help train farmers and plant and maintain productive forests;
b.) BSA seeks government and non-government programs to provide economic survival to farmers until their trees are productive.

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